5 Things to Wear for a Fall Photo Session

The number one question I’ve received since opening Ann Leonard Photography is “What should I wear?” The truth is that there isn’t a single right answer to this question. It depends on the type of session, the season, and a lot about you.

However, in the effort to create a place for you to start perusing the right section of your closet, or give you a great excuse for a mini-shopping spree, I present my Fall 2019 guide of “5 Things to Wear for a Fall Photo Session”.

1. Do Yourself a Solid

Do you see these two killing it in their best formal wear? I know this is from a summer shoot, but let me tell you what I love: the solid clothing that shows off these two personalities without stealing the image. Remember that the purpose of a portrait session is to showcase YOU and not your clothes. Prints tend to distract from faces, and showcase the clothing rather than the people. I want to tell your story and not the story of your clothes, so I always recommend solids as a first choice to clients.

2. Color Me Beautiful

What color solids you ask? Well, apparently this is quite the controversial subject. A lot of photographers out there prefer the clean crispness of neutral shades. To the credit of neutrals, they do photograph fabulously. However, for fall, I am a sucker for the warm shades of falling leaves, crisp apples, and golden sunsets.

Check out these Pintrest color boards for some great ideas of warm colors (warm neutrals get extra brownie points) as a springboard for your shopping list.

3. Coordination Is Key

What I love about those Pintrest colors up above is that they’re grouped together to aid in the coordinating of outfits. Matchy-matchy can be ridiculously cute, but it is definitively NOT the photography way to go. If you have two people wearing the exact same color and texture, guess what happens when they stand next to each other? Yep, everything blends together into an indistinguishable mass.

Instead of matching, think of coordinating colors from similar color families. The overall look results in a more cohesive image with each person retaining their individual shape.

4. New England Style

When I first moved to Massachusetts, I was struck by an interesting New England phenomena: when the weather gets cold the sweaters and scarves come out to play. For those born here, this fashion tidbit might be obvious to you; however, in my New Jersey childhood we put on “jackets” and didn’t really do the whole scarf thing. It took me a while to accept this cultural difference; however, I’m going to totally come out and embrace this New England trend (along with the knee high boots) because sweaters and scarves are WAY more flattering than jackets for a photography session.

Coats and bulky jackets tend to distort a person’s shape, whereas a well fitting sweater or the addition of a coordinating cardigan can add interest to an outfit while flattering the figure. Scarves are also a great way to make for a quick “outfit” change to allow for some variety in your images.

5. You Do You

If you aren’t comfortable in the clothes you are wearing, you won’t look comfortable in your images.

Do you see this adorable couple? Apparently, there are “rules” about not wearing graphic-Ts for portraits, and only wearing classic blouses, dresses and/or some other nonsense. This couple sent me photo after photo of potential outfit choices in which they clearly looked miserable. Dresses and formal wear just weren’t their thing. They just didn’t feel like their authentic selves, so I worked with them to help them coordinate the clothes they would normally wear to create these portraits.

I’m a lifestyle photographer. This means that my photos aim to tell the stories of your lives. If you aren’t into dresses and you wear a dress, it’s not your story. I want you to look like your best self, but your true self.

Questions? Book a session today, and we’ll find an outfit that works for you.

Open to All

Everything is political. Every decision is a choice. I am committed to letting my clients know that when they choose me, they are making the choice of inclusion.

Recently, I signed the Open to All pledge. The gist of this online agreement is that as a business I open my doors to all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or ethnicity. The website also proves a handy tool for consumers to choose businesses based on their commitment to non-discriminatory practices.

Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for making a choice of inclusion.

Back to Work

My Monday post is a bit later in the day than usual. I’ve just returned home after a much needed vacation. Family and friends were just what the doctor ordered in a get away.

Here’s a quick snap of my son’s grandpa and him. Now back to editing all of the beautiful summer sessions in my queue and planning some fun for fall!

Hamburgers & the Art of the Smile

Sometimes a little post shoot bribery is necessary, and for this loving family, an after session dinner proved the perfect family time and in-session motivation for some genuine enthusiasm.

For those on the spectrum, interaction comes hard. Smiles are harder, and eye contact might just be the worst. However, hamburgers seem to remain a universal good, at least for J. He’s the oldest child of this family, and I was warned before hand that I might not see a smile at all. His family and I teamed up, though, and through the powers of silly faces and the promise of hamburgers, I think we did pretty well. We even somehow managed to get a rainbow out of the day.

Top 5 Tips for Creating Stunning Silhouettes

There’s a rock at a local park that had been begging me to shoot a silhouette style photo on it for awhile now. I’m pretty happy with the results, and I thought you might like to give silhouette photography the old DIY try.

Unfortunately, when you google how to create a silhouette, the first links that pop up are how to create them with Photoshop or some other editing program, but the truth is that a good silhouette can be created completely in camera– and you can even do it on your phone.

Tip 1: Find the Light

You don’t need to follow the light, but you do need to be able to find it. Silhouettes are created by placing the light source behind your subject. This can be the sun or some other form of artificial light as well. The light should be fairly bright to create the contrast that you need.

Note: If you’re attempting this outside, I would definitely avoid midday. Why? The sun is straight above you in the sky. Is it impossible to create a great silhouette at that time of day? No. Is it significantly harder? Definitely. In fact midday sun is just generally better off avoided when shooting outdoors.

Tip 2: Marie Kondo Your Background

The minimalist lifestyle is definitely not for everyone, but there’s a need for it in silhouette photography. A cluttered background does not bring your photo joy.

Negative space, much like it sounds, is an absence of stuff/clutter. In the picture above, do you see how I found a break in the trees? There’s just a lot of empty sky behind the couple. This is negative space. You want to focus the attention on your subject, so you need to find an empty place where their silhouettes will be differentiated from the background.

Tip 3: Less Isn’t Always More

Marie Kondo would never tell you to throw out the baby with the bath water. She just wants what you have to “spark joy”. Do you know what sparks joy? Textures and framing.

As much as negative space is needed to highlight the silhouette of your subject, having other elements in the frame are essential to add interest. Look for textured clouds, gorgeous sunset colors, and other natural elements to create frames.

In the picture of the couple, do you see the slight textures in the sky? Do you see how the trees surround the couple to frame them? Below, do you see how the tunnel frames the silhouette and the grooves provide more texture than just a solid black circle would? These little details make for a more complete image that catches one’s eye more than a silhouette alone.

Tip 4: Leave Room for Jesus

Tight embraces? Passionate kisses? Love them!

But, seriously, no religion necessary, for silhouettes, you need to leave some space. That romantic kiss is going to turn into a blob of bodies if you don’t separate the subjects from one another in the photo.

This also applies to individual subjects as well. Do you notice the space between the tunnel monster a.k.a. my son’s legs? The splay of his arms? You need to create space between limbs/props/people or you’re going to have the perfect silhouette of… Well, that’s the problem. No one will actually know what your subject is.

Tip 5: The Darkening

I started by instructing you to find the light, but in the end you need to turn away. We need to underexpose our image, so that the details are removed and only a black non-blob silhouette remains. How do you do this? You need to switch away from auto on your camera and move to manual (yes, most phones will allow you to do this too).

Now here’s where it becomes tricky. I can’t give you the exact settings. Each day/light situation will be different; however, what I can do is give you a link to a website that explains the exposure triangle and gives you a great place to start.

I can also tell you how to cheat: your smart phone lets you see what your image looks like before you take the picture; similarly, many modern DSLRs have a live view option that lets view your photograph on the back LCD panel. Switch your camera to manual, and try playing with your shutter speed to start. The faster the shutter speed, the less light that goes into your camera. You should be able to increase your shutter speed to underexpose your image and create a great silhouette.

Note: Please do remember that cheaters never prosper and to take great photos you really do need to learn your settings and what they do. However, while we’re bending the rules: here’s a color silhouette on Black and White Wednesday. Shhh… it can be our little secret.

Boston Back 2 School: Malden, MA

Now Booking Back 2 School Minis

Is the summer really over? Not quite, but school is on the horizon. Kids change so quickly; take the time to document who they are as they enter into the new school year.

These shots are from a backyard back to school session I had the pleasure to shoot this weekend. The oldest sibling regaled me with Harry Potter trivia while the youngest dazzled me with her knowledge of hip hop dance. Too cute? I know.

Are you interested in capturing your littles this year? Well, I’m hosting mini-sessions on August 24,25,31 and September 1. They’ll feature papers, pencils, books, apples, a classic desk, and a bunch of smiles.

Back to School Minis: $150

  • 20 min photography session
  • 5 edited, high resolution digital images with print release

*Book back to back sessions with a friend and get $25 off both sessions.

The Force of the Crop

This lovely earth goddess deserves more than an Instagram square. Doesn’t this photo just demand to breathe–unconstrained in its efflorescent glory?

But alas, despite Instagram’s brilliant upgrade to non-squarable photos, the thumbnails reduce this lady’s brilliance to mere beauty.

Such is the first world pain of the forced crop.

The Cruelty of Instagram
The Beauty of Some Breathing Room

Perhaps one day I will admit defeat and lower myself to the bold borders of #squaredroid once again.

Black and White Wednesday

I understand why most people seem to prefer color: it’s what we see, but I’ll probably always be a sucker for a good black and white image.

I began my photography journey in a university dark room. My path has been far from straight, but it was in that dark room that I fell in love with photography and learned to unsee the color, to focus on form, contrast, and composition.

I embrace color now; I do: it’s also a powerful tool, but I’ve decided that the rest of the week can be as colorful as it wants– Wednesdays are hereby going to be dedicated to black and white. #bnww #yolo